Runners’ Top Running Pet Peeves

Running is supposed to be a stress-reducing activity, but every runner will tell you that there are certain things about running that gets their blood boiling. Here are some top running pet peeves, with suggestions for how to let them not ruin your runs.

Pet Peeve: Honking horns (and other harassing behaviors)

Dealing with the occasional obnoxious heckler is inevitable when you run outside, especially for female runners. In a survey by Brooks Running, 35% of runners surveyed said that honking horns was the most annoying thing they encounter during runs. Also in that honking horns category would be people yelling rude, obnoxious comments such as, “Nice legs!”, “Woo-hoo!”, etc.

How to Deal:   Most harassers yell obnoxious comments from their cars as they drive past you. So the easiest way to avoid them is to run where you know you won’t find any cars, such as running paths or trails. If you must run on shared roads, here are some safety tips when dealing with hecklers:

Keep running. Don’t stop and start screaming back at the heckler or flip him off. Although it may be tough to ignore him, it’s better to keep your distance and continue moving.

Don’t appear vulnerable. When someone starts yelling rude comments at you, hold your head high and stay strong. If your harasser tries to stop you, be forceful. Tell him to back off and keep moving.

 Run with a phone. It’s always smart to carry a phone with you, especially when running alone. If someone is verbally harassing you and you feel threatened, call the police. Give them a description of the harasser and where and when it happened.

Pet Peeve: Annoying behaviors by other runners

There are as many annoying behaviors as there are types of running shoes. Runners in this category include, but are not limited to: “Heavy Breathers,” “Guy Running With Change in His Pocket,” “Woman Playing Her Music Way Too Loudly”, “Frequent Spitter”, “Road Hogs”, “Litterbug”, and “Showing Way Too Much Skin”.

How to Deal: Run away!  That’s really all you can do if you encounter another runner whose behaviors are like nails on a chalkboard to you.  Turn in the opposite direction and get away from that person before he or she really ruins your run.  If, for some reason, you can’t run in the other direction (like in a race!), change your pace so you’re not near him or her anymore.  Who knows, running away from “Snot Rocket Man“ may actually help you achieve a new PR.

Pet Peeve: Having to stop at traffic lights

I always seem to hit a traffic light at the point in my run when I’ve really hit my stride and could run for miles. Then I’m forced to stop and I feel like I might need a cup of coffee to get moving again. Apparently I’m not alone. According to Brooks, 27% of runners surveyed said stopping at traffic lights was their biggest running pet peeve.

How to Deal: I love the feeling of heading out my front door and starting my run. But unfortunately I can’t run too far until I hit one of those annoying traffic lights. Even if I want to run in a local park, I still hit some lights along the way. So if I want to do my entire run without interruptions, I’ll head to my local high school track for a workout or drive to a running trail or path. This strategy works really well during times when I know there will be a lot of cars on the road (during rush hours, for instance) and I want to avoid cars as well as the traffic lights. Another way (albeit expensive) to avoid having to stop for traffic lights or cars is to run in lots of races!

Pet Peeve: Dressing appropriately for the weather

I’ve had runs where I’ve taken a chance and said to myself, “I’m sure it will warm up while I’m out there,” and later immensely regretted my decision to wear just shorts and a T-shirt.  Choosing weather-appropriate clothes for a run can be annoying and even potentially dangerous if you’re not smart about it.

How to Deal:   A little research (beyond just looking out the window and guessing how cold/warm it is) can help you avoid making disastrous running attire decisions. I like checking’s hourly forecast so I can see what the weather will be at the beginning, middle, and end of my run.  I also try to keep notes of weather conditions and what I wore (for races or important runs, not every run) in my training journal, so I can look back when trying to plan future race outfits.

If the weather conditions are a bit unpredictable, remember that you can always take off certain items. Tying a light jacket around your waist or tucking a pair of gloves in your pocket is less of an inconvenience than frozen arms or fingers. For races that may be cold at the starting line, I’m a big fan of throwaway clothes, which are old shirts, warm hats, gloves, etc. that you can wear at the start or for the first mile or two, but then toss to the side once you warm-up.

Pet Peeve: Sharing recreation paths or trails with cyclists

According to Brooks, 23% of runners surveyed said sharing the trail with cyclists was their biggest pet peeve while running. Although I haven’t seen results from a similar survey of cyclists, I’m sure the feeling is mutual. Runners think cyclists ride dangerously too fast and too close to runners, and cyclists think that runners are hazardous to cyclists because they don’t pay attention or allow cyclists to safely pass them.  Can’t we all just get along?

How to Deal: If you’re respectful and polite to cyclists, hopefully they’ll do the same for you. Here are some basic rules to follow when you’re running on a multi-use path or trail:

Follow the rules of the road. Many parks and bike paths have written rules for where you should run or bike. Some reserve lanes for runners and walkers, or suggest that runners stay to a particular side of the path. Look for posted signs, ask other runners on the path, or do some research online to find out if the path or park has specific rules.

Communicate and pay attention. If you’re approaching a cyclist and need to pass him, let him know on which side you’re trying to pass. Before you stop or turn around, make sure your path is clear. I’ve seen lots of collisions happen because a runner stopped suddenly and turned right into a cyclist’s path.

Make sure you can hear. If you’re wearing headphones, you may not be able to hear a cyclist yelling, “On your right!” as she tries to pass you. Save your music for the treadmill, or at the very least keep the volume very low.

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